Former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma Saturday said he never propagated himself as a presidential candidate but "incidentally became" one.
Sangma said it was Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa who supported his name out of the list of six tribal candidates which was given to her.
He said the idea of having a tribal president came after some tribal people approached him saying that nobody pays attention to the community's problems.
"I told them that if a black can occupy White House... why a tribal can't become the president of India. And this made front headline in every newspaper and was hotly debated. During a meeting of the tribal forum, I floated the idea and it was supported by everyone," Sangma said at an interaction at the Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC).
Naming the six candidates, including him, whom the forum had included in its list, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader said: "At no stage my name was suggested. But when I, along with the tribal forum president, met Jayalalithaa, she said she agreed that there should be a tribal leader but only supports my candidature."
"We then took this to the forum and all members agreed to project me as the presidential candidate. So, I am an incidental presidential candidate," he said, smilingly.
According to Sangma, neither the Congress nor the Bharatiya Janata Party has the numbers needed to get their candidate elected to the top post and the "third front like Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and AIADMK" will play a key role in it.
Sangma said that besides approaching the parties, he is going to individual members. "The best part is that presidential election is through secret ballot and not a whip. So no one comes to know who voted for whom."
"We have to wait to see how things turn up. As of now, parties are still discussing it and there is still time left," said the leader, who started his career as a journalist in a weekly magazine in the northeast.
Replying to a question on whether he is confident of getting the needed numbers, Sangma said: "There are big numbers of hidden votes with me as it is a secret ballot."
He said that he has approached all the parties for support and has written to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee seeking a meeting.
On being pitted against Mukherjee, whose name has cropped up as a likely candidate, Sangma said: "He is excellent in statistics and facts and figure. He is a good administrator but not comfortable with elections and has contested only once."